Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine focused on the digestive system and its disorders. In the United States, gastroenterology is an internal medicine subspecialty certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM).
Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract, which include the organs from mouth to anus, along the alimentary canal, are the focus of this specialty. Physicians practicing in this field are called gastroenterologists.
The unique training that Gastroenterologists complete provides them with the ability to provide high quality, comprehensive care for patients with a wide variety of gastrointestinal ailments. Gastroenterologists perform the bulk of research involving gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures as well as the interpretation of results, and are considered experts in the field. Studies have shown that Gastroenterologists perform higher quality colonoscopy examinations and comprehensive consultative services when compared to other physicians. This translates into more accurate detection of polyps and cancer by colonoscopy when performed by Gastroenterologists, fewer complications from procedures and fewer days in the hospital for many gastrointestinal conditions managed by trained gastroenterology specialists.
It is this ability to provide more complete, accurate, and thorough care for patients with gastrointestinal conditions, which distinguishes Gastroenterologists from other physicians that provide some similar services.